Friday 13 May 2022

Swell - All That You Got (1990-2008)


Swell formed in San Francisco in 1989 when David Freel (vocals/guitar) and Sean Kirkpatrick (drums) decided to record a self-titled album, released on Freel's own pSychosPecificMusic label in 1990. Swell's influences range from 80's post-punk bands, Pink Floyd to folk, noise pop and Ennio Morricone film scores.
In 1991, now with Monte Vallier on bass and John Dettman on guitar, they recorded a second album, "...Well?", which was released in February 1992, also on pSychoSpecificMusic. Though Dettman left the band soon after, Freel, Kirkpatrick, and Vallier carried on, receiving an offer from Def American to give "...Well?" a wider release one year after its first release.

Adding guitarist Tom Hays, they began recording their third album, "41", in 1992. It was released by American in late 1993. In 1993 Niko Wenner (Oxbow, Jellyfish) replaced Hays, and toured with the band on guitar, backing vocals, and keyboards. Subsequent albums include 1997's "Too Many Days Without Thinking" and 1998's "For All the Beautiful People". The latter album included Wenner on guitar and backing vocals, and Rob Ellis on drums.

"Everybody Wants to Know", more a Freel solo album than anything else, appeared in spring 2001. "Whenever You're Ready" - recorded with Sean Kirkpatrick - and the compilation "Bastards and Rarities" both appeared in 2003. Early 2004 Swell toured the States for the first time in six years. They also toured Europe again in 2004, the band consisting of Mat Mathews on drums, Greg Baldzikowski (keyboards and guitars), Doran Bastin (bass) and David Freel (vox, acoustic guitar).

After three years of silence Freel started recording new songs in spring 2007, assisted by Nick Lucero (ex-Qotsa) on drums. The final Swell album, "South of the Rain and the Snow", was released late 2007 on pSychosPecificMusic, together with "The Lost Album", a 9-track compilation of rarities from the 1995–1997 era. Swell toured Europe in October/November 2008, Freel's sidekicks on this tour were Ron Burns (drums) and Brian Mumford (guitar & fx).

Freel died in Oregon City on April 12, 2022, aged 64. The news of his death was shared on Facebook, however, the actual cause of death was not made public.

On hearing about David Freel's untimely death last month, which deeply saddened me (too many musicians I've liked/loved have died quite recently), I dug out my favourite Swell album, "...Well?", which I hadn't listened to for several years. I'd almost forgotten what a fine band Swell were all those years ago. After deciding to make the opening track on my next Spaghetti Tree compilation one of my favourite Swell songs, "At Long Last", I felt Freel deserved a more substantial tribute. Compiling this collection of some of my favourite Swell songs, featuring at least 1 track from all their studio releases, plus the odd EP/single track, proved to be a very tough task indeed. I could have easily made this collection double CD in length, even then there'd be several tracks deserving of a place. Tracks from "...Well?" feature the most heavily, 3 in total.

As per usual, info containing track origin & year of release is tagged in the music files and in the download file. I hope you enjoy this latest collection!

  1. In the Door, Up the Stairs / Is That Important? (5:04)
  2. It's Okay (3:52)
  3. Bongstarr (3:56)
  4. 20,000 Years (3:28)
  5. Bridgette, You Love Me (3:12)
  6. ...A Velvet Sun (5:27)
  7. Say Goodbye (3:40)
  8. Sick Half of a Church (3:35)
  9. Today (3:31)
10. Golden Years (3:42)
11. Wash Your Brain (4:06)
12. Good Good Good (2:41)
13. O My C (4:05)
14. I've Got the World on a String (2:47)
15. Here It Is (4:02)
16. (I Know) The Trip (4:31)
17. At Long Last (3:39)
18. Someday Always Comes (4:14)
19. Next to Nothing (4:56)
20. Trouble Loves You (5:22)

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